Last week, our specialist radon measurement advisor made a presentation at the UKRA symposium reviewing the existing protocols for radon testing. The main conclusions are: there is a new scenario after the implementation of EURATOM BSS 59/2013 Directive in Europe; most member states have adopted or will adopt a reference level of 300 Bq m-3; the following EU countries have a protocol to describe how to measure radon (WP’s): Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, UK, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden. Norway and Switzerland have similar protocols too. In addition to that, there is a new industrial guideline to measure radon at work places (IRMA 0791-30). A video of this presentation will be available soon at the UKRA website.
This week Radonova Laboratories AB has been a gold sponsor at UKRA symposium. The meeting has been organised by UK Radon association in the city of Bath, UK. More than 60 participants have attended 9 presentations and 6 case study talks. Tony Colgan, from IAEA, made the keynote presentation and the meeting has had speakers from Canada, Ireland, Sweden, UK and USA. In addition, 9 exhibitors have shown their products. Congratulations to UKRA for this fantastic event.
The new Directive EURATOM BSS 2013/59 is being implemented on the EU member states. Therefore, the need for having radon measurements services that provide trustable results is a must. Some EU member states have published lists to include these services. Radonova Laboratories AB belongs to those lists. Two examples to keep in mind: PHE has a validation scheme for laboratories and recently, the Spanish Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) has published its own list. On this list, Radonova has added its resellers in Spain too.
The challenge of making correct radon measurements
Testing laboratories aim to accomplish high standards in terms of laboratory practice, accuracy of their results and participation in inter-comparison exercises. To achieve that they formerly followed their own internal procedures and designed their own measurement protocols. Given that scenario, how reliable are test results? How can we compare the results obtained by two different laboratories using different testing protocols? The question becomes more relevant when we need to fulfil national legislation and provide results that would be accepted as legal evidence in a court of law.
The best way to provide reliable test values and comparable results among laboratories might be to measure the same sample parameters following the same methods. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. One can perform a test and provide results for the same sample parameter using different approaches. ISO means International Standards Organization. The list of existing standards is very large, and they are applicable to almost any possible measurement. Not only testing, but also calibration has to be made according to common practices. Therefore, the only possible solution is to comply with ISO/IEC 17025 (revised in 2017).
The name of the game – Accreditation according to ISO/IEC 17025
ISO/IEC 17025 contains general requirements to assess the proper competence of testing and calibrating laboratories. It is a full quality system that can be applied to any testing/calibration activity and is particularly relevant to the measurement of radon levels. Accreditation means that the laboratory has met the Management Requirements and Technical Requirements of ISO/IEC 17025 and is deemed technically competent to produce calibration and testing results. This means that we can always verify that our measurements are correct, both accurate and reproducible. This standard is valid for any organization performing testing activities and applies equally to very small laboratories right up to large corporations.
Due to the recent EURATOM BSS Directive, it is necessary to establish a reference level of radon gas concentration in each EU member state. The Directive mandates member states to monitor radon levels in dwellings, work places and public areas. A detailed list of actions is included in the Directive and all member states must set up a national radon action plan. Hence the need to have credible results is essential and the consequences of bad practice may imply serious deviations from the level of accomplishment required by the Directive. Currently, most national authorities demand measurement protocols from the testing service being used and a quality system in place. The accreditation awarded under ISO/IEC 17025 meets this demand ensuring confidence in the accuracy and precision of measurements. It comes with an implicit guarantee that a quality system is in place with systematic procedures supporting each reported value.
EPA radon-Ireland (former Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland) has a long tradition of radon research. The radon program in Ireland is a good example of increasing awareness among general public and good practices. Radon maps are becoming more and more popular. However, we should not forget that the best way to investigate radon concentrations at homes is by means of a radon measurement. The Castleisland radon survey is an example of homes with very elevated radon levels located in a low-risk area in the county of Kerry. In July 2003, “a house located in the vicinity of Castleisland was identified with an average radon concentration seasonally adjusted of 49,000 Bq/m3 (highest level ever measured in a house in the country)”
We use to say that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. There is enough scientific evidence to prove this. However, other forms of cancer may be due to radon too. Dr. Leslie Sutherland from Health Sciences North Research Institute in Canada is leading a project funded by NEO kids foundation to look into “how the exposure of radon is altering human cells of the lung, at the molecular level”. Leukaemia is the most common cause of cancer among children and radon has been associated with certain types of leukaemia. You can find more information about this in a recent article published at The Sudsburystar.
Radonova will be gold sponsor at the upcoming UKRA symposium that will be held in Bath, UK. The symposium will start in the evening on 14th March with a networking activity. On 15th March, different speakers from around the world will present contributions that will include the UK National Radon Action Plan. Jose – Luis Gutierrez Villanueva from Radonova will make the presentation entitled “protocols for radon testing”. His presentation will deal with existing measurement protocols to determine radon concentration in dwellings and workplaces. He will make a summary of the official guidelines in Europe and present some common points. Come to Bath and join us on the second edition of this UKRA event!
Radonova is proud to announce that our product Duotrak® has been officially listed with NRPP as standard measurement device for the use in the United States and Canada. NRPP is the National Radon Proficiency Program. Products listed with NRPP ensure that they follow the standard protocols issued by ANSI-AARST for performing radon measurements. Duotrak® offers you a simple way to separate radon exposure measurements made during working hours from non-working hours at the work place.
CARST (Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists) organises this 2018 Annual Radon Conference in Ottawa (22-24 April). This year´s topic is “An Elemental Approach: RADON in EARTH AIR WATER”. Radonova is very proud to be gold sponsor of the conference. In addition, Radonova will have one speaker on April 23 presenting the new EURATOM BSS (Basic Safety Standards) Directive.
Professionals dealing with radon gas know how important to increase radon awareness is. An article published on St Valentine’s day in the North Shore news interviewed two important names on radon awareness in Canada: Dr. Anne-Marie Nicol (Simon Fraser University) and Alan Whitehead (founding board member and President of CARST and CEO of Radon Environmental). Anne-Marie and Alan are working hard on increasing radon awareness among Canadian population. Anne-Marie is leading a project at her university called “Citizen Scientist Project for radon gas”. These are two examples of joint efforts from scientific and commercial sides to increase radon awareness and therefore protect people from radon exposure.